Ammo shortage anecdotes

Tam (View from the porch) overheard this conversation at a gun store

Me: “Geez, I’ve got more rimfire ammo than y’all do.”

SalesGuy: “That’s not funny.”

Ha ha 🙂

Uncle (Says Uncle) is having to wait 5-7 weeks for his CCI subsonic HP ammo order (it also happens to be my chosen .22 round of choice).

This shortage is getting ridiculous!

(by the way, If you do not read View From The Porch or Says Uncle, you should start)

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • For the first time in 200 years, you have it worse than we do in New Zealand!

    It’s primers and caps that are hard to get here- I have more of those than the local dealer!

  • Jesse

    I haven’t been able to practice with my 9mm guns for fear of running out of ammo to defend myself because I refuse to pay inflated prices for it. I’ve been shooting my .22s a lot more and I’m considering getting another .22 for that purpose. It’s depressing.

  • Phil

    Its because of people like me. I go to Wallmart every day and buy what ever i can, ever if I don’t own a gun in that caliber.

  • Freiheit

    Steve, you’re a good author, you have many friends, you don’t exactly do investigative journalism, but you do a bit more work than the average blogger. Think you might be able to cook up a post on the economics of the ammo shortage?

    Its become one of those things that everyone in the gun community “just knows”, but some hard facts might show how it matches to other shortages and when we might come out of it.

    At any rate I just got talked into competing in pistol matches. Anyone know where I can get a crap ton of .45 ACP without setting back my plans to own a home this year??

    • Freiheit, if I knew where to start I would. My theory, and I have posted it somewhere (possibly on another blog), is that everyone along the chain is hording. The consumer, retailer, middleman and manufacturer. The consumer is hording because they are worried about ammo supply, the others are hording to keep the price high and make maximum profit.

  • Why is CCI subsonic HP your .22 round of choice?

    • Federalist, I use it for both small game hunting and for shooting at the range. The main reason I use it is because it burns cleanly and can cycle semi-autos more reliably than some other brands.

  • jdun1911

    Getting .22lr is ridiculous. My supplies of .22lr ran out and had borrow from my cousin and friends.

  • You can’t buy reloading components, other than a few bullets, in my county here in CA.

  • irishman

    I work in a warehouse that receives, stores and ships ammo,( and other items) and the ammo shortage is real. The manufacturers produce and ship the ammo as fast as they can yet we are way behind in filling customer orders. As much as 4 months or more is not unusual. I am beginning to see more product arrive, which tells me that the rush is lessening or the manufacturers are gaining ground. Lately we have been processing ammo orders in amounts never before seen here, and as fast as we can turn the product around. Some days we go home early(5-6 hours) and the next 2-3 we end up working 9-10 hours to ship orders.
    We cannot buy it any easier, or faster than the average joe, but i typically see 300-500 boxes of cci subsonic .22 every day, and we are behind on receiving and filling!
    I feel your pain, I too have trouble acquring my own ammo, yet we are working like crazy to get it in and out the door.

  • Tam

    Thanks for the link!

    I think CCI has pretty much the best of the domestic rimfire stuff; definitely the most reliable ignition.

    Of course, .22’s are notoriously ammo-sensitive when it comes to accuracy; I’ve had guns that would shoot like a house afire with CCI Green Tag, and others that patterned like a shotgun with the stuff…

  • Dom

    @Phil: You’re not joking, are you? Well at least you’re honest about it.

    I tell ya what, this shortage is the most embarassing thing I’ve ever seen the pro-gun community do. At the range we’re kind and sharing folks, but apparently when push comes to shove we’ll buy ammo well beyond our need for the foreseeable future even if it does effectively disarm the next guy. And you think it’s bad now? Once all the hoarders have built up 10 year supplies of ammo and don’t come back to buy ammo for another 10 years, retailers are gonna be hard up. Disruptions to demand and supply have long term consequences, and we did it to ourselves.

  • War Wolf

    I read somewhere that Walmart hasn’t raised prices because they are locked into supply contracts with the manufacturers that are typically 1 year in length. Once the contract expires there may be a bump in our Walmart prices too. But I have confidence in my favorite discount retailer that they will fight hard to keep the prices from getting out of hand for the stuff they carry. After all, losing a Walmart supply contract is like falling off a gravy train, and I don’t think there are many companies who don’t like riding gravy trains.

  • Freiheit

    War Wolf – My wife and I had a similar conversation. If you can find ammo at WalMart its half the price of where the market wants it. They have to be looking at gun shops buying up boxes and marking it up 100%.

    My concern there is that WalMart may see that, and they wouldn’t raise their prices to the same level as the gun shops. They would raise prices so that they are making more profit, but still cheaper than the gun shops.

    So a box of ammo at WalMart currently stickered at $15 and selling for $30 elsewhere represents $15 in lost profit for WalMart. Raising prices to $30 sacrifices their competetive edge. Raising the price to $25 ups their margins AND makes the profit for resellers disappear to the point where it may not be worthwhile for them to stake out WalMart and resell the ammo.

    That is a scary situation because WalMart is big enough that they would move the price floor up for the ENTIRE market. That $15 box of ammo will NEVER be $15 again if WalMart resets the price floor at $25. That means that those prices are here to stay, and thats what its going to cost to own a gun in America.

    WalMart could have a beneficial impact in the market for the consumer. If they stick to their principle of improving profit almost solely by reducing costs and rarely raising prices they will be the sole force in the market holding that price floor down. As War Wolf stated, WalMart suppliers have too much of their raw production tied up in WalMart. The last I knew WalMart made sure that they were never a majority of a suppliers business, but they are inevitably a significant portion of it.

    For more reading check out a book, “The WalMart Effect”. Its a fascinating look at the impact WalMart has on the economy and how they operate. I think the book is honest and fair, you can take what you will from it and see the good or the bad in how WalMart operates. The important takeaway is that they are one of the most influential factors in the economy today.

    Thus endeth the sermon.

  • Freiheit, this is not as big a problem with loaded ammunition because if all dealers try to maintain an artificial premium then more people just load their own. We are already seeing a lot more of this. Maybe doesn’t apply to rimfire ammo, but otherwise it’s impossible to maintain cartel pricing of ammo.

  • ShellShocked

    The ammo shortage is HUGE here in Texas! You can’t find .380, 38 special, 9mm, 30-06, and .223 anywhere! Even the retail big dogs like Academy and Walmart shelves are bare. Boxes of .270 win. is very scarce. Reloading is the only way to go! To ensure you have plenty of ammo on hand to use when you need it. We as a people can control the market, enough of the big retailers dictating to us what we will pay for ammo.

    I had enough, so I have just became a FFL Certified Reloader. I am now in the process of starting my own custom reload shop. I can now produce custom loads, factory spec loads, high accuracy loads and speciality loads, the possibilities are endless. With this ability I am able to sell my ammunition, to anybody just like a retailer.

    We brothers in arms, need to take control. Let’s not wait till the government makes more rules against us the shooters. Reloaders unite!

  • Freiheit

    Federalist, interesting point.

    So if the price of ammo is kept artificially high, more people reload. Thus they buy less ammo. That reduces demand and therefore reduces prices.

    The other factor is that reloaders need supplies. For the sake of argument, lets assume that they only need primers and powder and cast their own bullets.

    For X million rounds that the shooting community wants, there will ALWAYS be X million primers and X million units of powder. It has to be purchased for all but the most dedicated (insane) reloaders.

    Can we conclude that primers and powder are the real linchpins of the market???

  • Any active reloader will tell you that primers are the bottleneck in this ammunition market!

    I don’t know whether manufacturers of loaded ammo are facing the same primer shortage though. They may either get priority with primer manufacturers, manufacture their own primers, or else they may have more trouble with brass since they aren’t reusing it!